The doctors treating U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords says she is "doing very well" in the wake of two surgeries performed Wednesday.
Physicians at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Center in Houston reported Thursday morning that they had performed a cranioplasty, which replaced a portion of Giffords' skull removed after the January 8 shooting, and placed a shunt in her head to manage her hydrocephaly, a condition common in head trauma victims in which fluid accumulates around the brain.
Giffords will no longer have to wear the helmet specially designed--and adorned with the Arizona flag--for her after the January 8 assassination attempt in which she was shot through the left side of the head.
"She hates the helmet," said Giffords chief of staff Pia Carusone, "so she's been looking forward to this for a long time."
The implant that replaces the missing portion of Giffords' skull is made of a porous ceramic material that will eventually merge with her own bone cells, said Dr. Kim Dong. The shunt is permanent, but entirely under the skin and invisible, he added.
"Many patients forget they have it after a while," he said.
The congresswoman is undergoing bedside physical therapy as she recovers from the surgery, and will resume her usual rigorous rehabilitation regimen in about two days, said Dr. Girard Francisco, who is in charge of Giffords' rehab.
The doctors are hopeful that the cranioplasty and shunt will enable Giffords' brain to heal more readily than before, and suggested they may "upgrade" or advance her therapy program in the near future. They did not, however, give a target date for her discharge from the hospital.